Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Stephan Delbos, "Deterritorializing the Archive"

Stephan Delbos

Deterritorializing the Archive: The Donald Allen Collection and The New American Poetry from a Transnational Perspective

1> The editor Donald Allen’s archive at the University of California in San Diego offers a particularly fruitful example of the benefits of approaching an older archive from a newer perspective. Allen, who worked for Grove Press in the 1950s before going on to start his own publishing companies including Grey Fox Press and the Four Seasons Foundation, is perhaps best known for his 1960 anthology The New American Poetry 1945—1960. This anthology, which has been referred to as “germinal,”1 “groundbreaking,”2 “epoch-making,”3 a “watershed,”4 a “hegemonic force,”5 a “cornerstone,”6 and “indispensable,”7 has sold more than 100,000 copies,8 making it one of the most highly praised and economically successful anthologies of post-war American poetry. The New American Poetry is also considered a breakthrough moment for American verse, when formal and political liberalism broke free of the literary and social strictures of the silent generation.9 Allen’s archive – which contains the editor’s personal notes about the project as well as his voluminous correspondence with his contemporaries, some of whom were crucial influences on the design of the anthology – allows scholars to reconstruct the genesis of The New American Poetry. And many have.

2> Alan Golding, Michael Davidson and Linda Russo among others have done invaluable work in Allen’s archive over the last two decades. But the reality of The New American Poetry, like so much during the Cold War, is particularly complex. Allen’s anthology is bound up in Cold War politics and nationalism in ways that have become evident to scholars only in recent years, as we learn more about the process and effects of the American cultural warfare of the second half of the twentieth century. Deterritorializing10 Allen’s archive by reading it from a transnational perspective widens our framework of interpretation and provides new modes of consideration, al- lowing us to interrogate much about The New American Poetry that has been taken for granted, including the seemingly simple designation of “American” poetry.

The Nation of The New American Poetry

3> What does it mean to deterritorialize Donald Allen’s archive and The New American Poetry? Most immediately this requires looking more closely at the editorial process behind this water- shed anthology while resituating the book – and the editor’s papers – within the intense American political and social tensions of the Cold War. To do so, we must interrogate even the most basic claim the anthology makes: that it is a gathering of specifically American poetry.

4> In his introduction to the anthology, Allen presents the poets therein as “a strong third generation ... our avant-garde, the true continuers of the modern movement in American poetry.”11 Allen’s use of the word “our” reveals his Amerocentric point of view. Was the editor engaging in simple shorthand, or is this an expression of the us versus them dichotomies of the Cold War? This is just one basic way that questioning our assumptions about the book complicates our notions of it and its impact. Reading Allen’s archival correspondence concerning The New American Poetry adds further complexity, revealing that even the editor’s simplest condition when putting together the anthology – that he would include poetry by Americans only – would remain problematically fluid until the very late stages.

5> In a letter to Robert Creeley written on April 17, 1958, Allen wrote: “Thank you for notes on the anthol[ogy]. Since this will be limited to American poets I’ll not be including [Canadian poet Irving] Layton and [Scottish poet Gael] Turnbull.”12 Whether owing to diplomacy or the fact that the exact designs of the anthology remained fluid, Allen’s correspondence with others, including Turnbull himself, reveals a less determined editorial attitude.13 Writing to Charles Olson in early September, 1959, a year after his letter to Creeley and after he’d decided on the title of the anthology, Allen mentions that he is “also think[ing] of throwing in a couple of poems by Layton and Gael Turnbull to round it out, taking American in the wider sense.”14

6> But Olson’s unequivocal response on September 12, 1959 to Allen’s suggestion of including Turnbull would set Allen’s tone for deciding who would and would not be included in the anthology.

“Anyway, the important thing to my mind is to leave the group alone: don’t drag in those other gooks of the past – & present solely because they hang around (don’t die ! ... yr anthology ought to be the decisive defining factor, that American writing went into a new gear, which is what it is now running on, and going over to Canada, England Scotland and out (and by god none of those older ghosts like – even the papas were international, this thing is most national”15

7> Olson’s letter confirmed the nationalist focus of The New American Poetry. This would extend to every aspect of the book, from its title to the cover image of a stylized version of the American flag, to its organization according to geographic areas of the North American continent. In his introduction, Allen seems to paraphrase Olson when he writes “the new American poetry [is] now becoming the dominant movement in the second phase of our twentieth-century literature and already exerting strong influence abroad.”16 This national focus created the image of a united poetic community that differentiated itself both from tradition and from the poetry of other English-speaking countries. But the fragility of this framework is revealed by considering poets such as Turnbull who fell outside Allen’s somewhat permeable editorial borders, especially as documented in Allen’s archive.

8> Born in Scotland, Turnbull would seem to have been immediately ineligible for The New American Poetry. Yet the poet’s situation was somewhat more nuanced. Although he had been raised and educated in the UK (by a Scottish father and American mother),17 Turnbull lived in Ventura, California between 1958 and 1964,18 and was well-known as a contributor to avant-garde anglophone poetry journals. Turnbull published a collection of poems in 1954 with Toronto’s Contact Press (which is listed in the “Short Bibliography” of The New American Poetry); published a collection with Cid Corman’s Origin Press in 1956; interviewed William Carlos Williams for The Massachusetts Review in 1958;19 and between 1957 and 1966 ran the influential Migrant Books, an important small magazine and publisher dedicated to promoting avant-garde anglophone writing from both sides of the Atlantic.20

9> Poets including Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan and Allen Ginsberg suggested to Allen in correspondence that Turnbull’s work should be included in The New American Poetry. Allen’s letters with others regarding Turnbull, and with the poet himself, show both the initial fluidity of the editor’s idea of “American in the wider sense” and the narrow definition of “American” he ultimately utilized for the anthology.

“Dear Gael Turnbull ... are you now becoming an American citizen? The limits I’ve set for this anthology of modern American poetry I’m preparing excludes poets who aren’t actually Americans, unfortunately. If you are becoming, I’d very much like to include some of your poems.”21

10> There is an important shift in Allen’s thinking here, from citizenship based on language to one based on passports. Turnbull responded facetiously to Allen’s request:

“I’m rather tickled that you should think of me for your anthology. Gregory Corso already gave me a temporary honorary alternative citizenship for some group of US and Canadian poems he chose for some German anthology. However, otherwise, I expect to travel on my British Passport for some time to come.”22

11> We will return to the German anthology that Turnbull cites, but for now it is important to consider how the poet provides a specific example of nationalism at work in the creation of Allen’s anthology. The issue is not as simple as a strong editorial policy against one individual,23 but is complicated by the inclusion of Helen Adam and Denise Levertov, born in Scotland and Britain, respectively. Adam was a San Francisco-based poet and a member of the poetic community surrounding Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer. Born in Glasgow, Adam did not move to the United States until the age of 30, in 1939.24 As one of only four female poets included in the anthology, and as one whose work was regularly praised in reviews, Adam’s inclusion makes The New American Poetry a decidedly richer collection. Further, given her importance as a proto-Beat poet and playwright living in San Francisco, as well as her close association with Robert Duncan, who played an important role in the creation of the anthology, Adam’s inclusion in some ways appears assured, even as Allen’s insistence on nationalism would seem to render her ineligible.25 Archival correspondence shows that Allen knew Adam was Scottish.26

12> The case of Denise Levertov is similar. Born in Essex in 1923, she published her first book in London in 1946 and lived in Europe until settling in New York at the end of 1948. Before her move, Kenneth Rexroth had included her work in his anthology, The New British Poets (1947). Allen seems not to have questioned her inclusion. Again, this may have been due to Duncan’s influence – his intense epistolary relationship with Levertov began in 1952 and as early as 1956 he had written to Allen, including Levertov, Helen Adam, and Madeline Gleason in a list of important post-war American poets.27 The inclusion of Helen Adam and Denise Levertov – and the exclusion of Gael Turnbull – suggests the fluidity of nationalism in poetry and the problematics of a poetry anthology based on national identity. Here Allen’s archive creates a more complex portrait of the anthology and one that sometimes conflicts with the final publication.

13> Allen’s correspondence with Charles Olson reveals the poet’s insistent nationalism. The editor’s correspondence with other poets in The New American Poetry shows that many of them chafed against Allen’s American framework. The problematics of the national origin story of innovative post-war anglophone poetry presented by The New American Poetry – and especially Allen’s introduction – are suggested in a letter to the editor from James Schuyler in late 1959. The poet cites the international (rather than American) influences of the New York School:

“If there is a New York ‘school’ now, it certainly began elsewhere, even abroad ... Continental European literature is, really the big influence: the Greats, plus Auden, seemed to fill the scene too completely – so one had to react with or against them, casting off obvious influences as best one can. In the context of American writing, poets like Jacob and Breton spelled freedom rather than surreal introversion. What people translate for their own pleasure is a clue: Frank, Holderlin and Reverdy; John A. (before he’d been to France), Jacob’s prose poems; Kenneth and I have both had a go at Dante’s untranslatable sonnet to Cavalcanti; I’ve translated Dante, Leopardi and, fruitlessly, Apollinaire and Supervielle ... But Pasternak has meant more to us than any American poet. Even in monstrous translation his lyrics make the hair on the back of one’s neck curl.”28

14> The idea that Pasternak, a Russian poet, “meant more” to the New York School “than any American poet” contradicts Allen’s Amero-centric framework and Olson’s suggestion that these poets were less international than their predecessors. Allen seems to have cherrypicked his poets, ignoring their international roots where convenient (Adam, Levertov) and foregrounding them in the case of other poets (Turnbull). This selective use of nationalism is evident to scholars reading through Allen’s archives with a global point of view.

15> The examples of Turnbull, Adam, Levertov and Schuyler suggest that Allen’s archive and the anthology are worth reconsideration in terms of the nationally unified portrait they present. Fortunately new, transnational readings of literature have emerged in recent years, helping trace the routes of literary influence and impact. These are especially revealing in the case of Allen’s archive and his best-known project.

Reading and Researching “New American” Poetry Transnationally

16> Allen’s (and Olson’s) Amero-centric approach to post-war poetry now contrasts with a critical discourse that insists on the permeability of national borders in literature. Numerous literary critics of the past two decades, including Jahan Ramazani, Wai Chee Dimock, James Clifford and Donald E. Pease, have insisted on reading American literature in a global context, privileging what Clifford has called routes rather than roots of influence.29 This transnational framework is specifically relevant to any discussion of the Cold War, when American studies was first instituted as an academic discipline, which is only one example of the era’s assertion of American culture and nationalism. Ramazani’s A Transnational Poetics is particularly relevant in this regard, as it “proposes various ways ... of examining cross-cultural and cross-national exchanges, influences, and confluences in poetry” by taking into account “globalization, migration, travel, genre, influence, modernity, decolonization, and diaspora.”30 Contrary to what The New American Poetry presents – a picture that Allen’s archive often contradicts – poetic influence and innovation are never hermetically sealed by national borders.

17> Taking issue with the continued prevalence of poetic nationalism, Ramazani identifies this framework across various media:

“In studies of modern and contemporary poetry in English, single-nation genealogies remain surprisingly entrenched: an army of anthologies, job descriptions, library catalogs, books, articles, and annotations reterritorializes the cross-national mobility and migrancy of modern and contemporary poetry under the banner of the single-nation norm.”31

18> Ramazani locates the source of these single-nation genealogies in a “pre-Romantic concept of literature as an expression of national identity [that] rigidifies in the Cold War American academy.”32 What the nationalism of The New American Poetry shows us, however, is that a single-nation concept of poetry was promoted both inside and outside the academy. Allen’s anthology, which was conceived of as a “total rejection of all those qualities typical of academic verse,”33 also participates in the Cold War calcification of an old notion of what Ramazani refers to as the citizenship of a poem.34 While many of the poets in Allen’s anthology were existing and writing transnationally – traveling and living in foreign countries, interacting and communicating with foreign cultures, languages and literatures – they were presented and read as being American above all.

19> In his seminal study of nationalism, Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson writes: “Since World War II every successful revolution has defined itself in national terms.”35 Inasmuch as the American post-war poetry avant-garde as presented by The New American Poetry can be said to comprise a revolution in literature, Anderson’s observation holds true, as does his definition of a nation as an imagined community, united by a shared narrative and an imaginary conception of unity. Allen established precisely this sense of community with his description of the poets included in the anthology as “a strong third generation ... our avant-garde, the true continuers of the modern movement in American poetry.”36 I’ve already mentioned how Allen’s use of “our” foregrounds the nationalism of the anthology, as it presupposes an American readership and context. More closely examining Allen’s use of the phrase “American poetry,” reveals that what he presented as a specifically American literary movement was not actually confined within the borders of the United States.

20> The New American Poetry, with its American flag cover and biographical notes that generally begin “Born [year] in [American city],” asserts the national heritage of the poets before the qualities of the poetry. But Allen’s national focus does not only limit the way the poetry in the anthology is read. Claiming that innovative post-war poetry belonged to the U.S. alone discounts the significant experimental poetry being written around the world by poets such as Turnbull, Basil Bunting and Roy Fisher from Britain; Samuel Beckett, Brian Coffey and Thomas MacGreevy from Ireland; Irving Layton from Canada, and the Nigerian poet Christopher Okigbo, among many others. These far-flung individuals were also using a new, more speech-based approach to writing poetry in English, which Allen limited to the “American language”37 when compiling the anthology. Allen does not explicitly claim that no innovative poetry was being written in other countries during this period, but the fact that he insisted on a separate American strand of innovation that was exerting “strong influence abroad”38 without admitting to any international influence certainly gives one that impression.

21> As Alan Riach has written about poet Ed Dorn (who appears in The New American Poetry), “the key qualities” of the “new forms of address in the American poetry of the 1950s and what was to come in the 60s” were:

“hard observation, moral commitment, fierce independence, self-determination, irrepressible humour, ironic flair, a flourishing sense of engagement, and literary and poetic structures to match and convey all these things. They were as essential to Edward Dorn as they were to Hugh MacDiarmid.”39

22> That a Scottish poet could have been as innovative with English-language form and content as American poets during this period does not seem to have occurred to Allen or poets such as Olson. The stylistic tendencies the editor identified as the defining characteristics of new poetry in the United States, and the actual places of production for this poetry, were more international than The New American Poetry suggests.

23> Allen’s ideas about the new poetry of his nation were gleaned from contemporary publications. Fortunately, the 1950s were a boom time for small presses. In the “Short Bibliography” of The New American Poetry, there are 15 addresses of independent poetry publishers, and 37 magazines and journals listed under “Chief Periodicals” and those that are “Also of Value.” Many of these are located outside the United States. The journal Contact was located in Toronto; Fragmente was located in Freiburg im Bresigau; Jabberwock 1959 was from Edinburgh; Artisan was from Liverpool; Prospect was located in Cambridge, England; and Botteghe Oscure was from Rome—and, incidentally published in Italian, French, Spanish and German as well as English, a fact that allowed it to promote “a new international spirit and the opening to a larger literary world for a generation of writers who would find each other through its pages.”40 One of the presses, Gael Turnbull’s Migrant, had addresses both in California and in England.41 So even on the level of publication, there was less that was specifically American about innovative anglophone poetry in the decade after World War II than the anthology makes apparent. The very existence of foreign presses that are considered American opens interesting cracks in the façade of a supposedly united national avant-garde. It also shows that the conception of American poetry as something taking place within the borders of the American continent is inaccurate.

24> Bearing in mind these relatively new ways of tracing poetic influence across borders, Olson’s claim that the innovative anglophone poetry that Allen collected in his anthology was specifically the product of American culture seems less an accurate, objective reading of that poetry and the post-war landscape and more a statement that blends self-promotion with Cold War American nationalism. Even leaving aside examples such as Gael Turnbull, the idea that American poets between 1945 and 1960 had shaken off the influence of the internationally minded modernists to create a poetry that was completely indigenous to the U.S. is disingenuous. None of the poets in The New American Poetry were completely free of international influences and in fact many of them openly embraced these influences, whether though reading and admiration, translation, communication with non-American poets or by actually living in foreign countries. The New American Poetry confines post-war poetic innovation to the American continent, a framework Allen would continue to utilize in later publishing projects, including New American Story (1965), The New Writing in the USA (1967), The Poetics of The New American Poetry (1973), and The Postmoderns: The New American Poetry Revised (1982).

25> Examining more closely the poets included and excluded from The New American Poetry, and the correspondence contained in Allen’s archive, makes clear that what Allen presented as a flourishing of specifically American poetry after World War II was more transnational and heterogeneous than it appears. Not only are Allen’s decisions regarding inclusion somewhat arbitrary,42 but the examples of Turnbull, Adam and Levertov suggest that the “thing” Olson described was not exactly “most national.” Due to the centrality of The New American Poetry and Allen as an editor of post-war American poetry, deterritorializing this archive alters our conception of not only this single anthology, but post-war anglophone poetry as a whole. No anthologist has so completely laid claim to such a specifically national project as Allen, or has so dramatically reorganized what might have been a transnational literary discourse. In so doing, Allen and his anthologies have helped create the American poetry we know today. Reading the editor’s correspondence from a transnational point of view also opens new ways to interpret the influence of the post-war moment as it exceeded the boundaries of the United States, and even the English language.

26> In his letter to Allen quoted above, Turnbull refers to a “group of US and Canadian poems [Gregory Corso] chose for some German anthology.”43 This is the anthology Junge Amerikanische Lyrik, edited by Corso and Walter Höllerer in the late 1950s, concurrently with The New American Poetry, though it was not published in Munich until 1961. Ironically, considering the way that Turnbull’s Scottish origins led him to be excluded from Allen’s anthology, the poet is described in the biographical notes to this bi-lingual anthology as being born in Canada and living in England.44 The difference between this anthology and Allen’s is surprising, given the fact that they do contain many of the same poets.

27> The Walter Höllerer archive in Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Germany offers a rich trove of documents and correspondence with many of the key figures of post-war anglophone poetry, including Donald Allen himself. Höllerer’s personal connections with these poets and his particular point of view on their work would be invaluable to the formation of the anthology. As the editor wrote in a personal note describing Junge Amerikanische Lyrik:

“This collection gathered in 1958 was gathered with no set anthological scheme whatever scheme there was was one of jest, that is, gather not what need be gathered, but gather what was at hand and what was at hand at the time was friends who I had the good fortune to know who were not poet-writers, but men who at one time wrote a poem ...”45

28> The tumultuous editing process Höllerer hints at here is confirmed in a letter from Corso on August 22, 1960:

I swear you all is good and done with anthology – as for Bur- roughs, where is he in anthology? and that last person, Seferis, cant go in because a mistake he is a famous Greek poet, tho i did put in 2 more poets, both new yong new orleans poets [sic], they are at end, they are good and will surely make anthology complete ...”46

29> The unique nature of Junge Amerikanische Lyrik and its eclectic composite of anglophone poetry was not lost on the few American readers who got hold of a copy. As Allen Ginsberg wrote to Höllerer: “Gregory’s editing is Idiotic, so the book is very exciting, like a pair of alligator shoes.”47

30> Corso and Höllerer compiled a freewheeling, inclusive anthology that offers a telling contrast to the national framework of The New American Poetry. More interesting than the poets who appear in both books are those individuals, several of them not American, who might be unfamiliar to readers of Allen’s anthology: Sheldon Thomas, Jacques Stern, Piero Heliczer, Alan Ansen, Kay Johnson, Diane Di Prima, Gavin Douglas, Arnold Weinstein, Lewis D. Brown and James Laughlin. The picture of post-war poetry that emerges from Junge Amerikanische Lyrik is certainly more international than what The New American Poetry presents. It is also a gesture toward a path of editorial inclusion that Allen did not follow, which ultimately impoverishes our understanding of innovative anglophone poetry since World War II.

31> Junge Amerikanische Lyrik, and especially Höllerer’s German-language essay contained therein, provides an unexpected point of view on post-war anglophone poetry, one that in some ways contradicts Allen’s unified American presentation. Höllerer writes:

“The young Americans are everything but unified ... They are a crowd of the most various, young headstrong people spread all over the whole continent, as well as parts of Europe ... The German generation of the same time offers some parallels ... While Ginsberg’s writing shows the sharpness of his Russian-Jewish descent, Corso’s poems present an Italian-American figurative grotesque that captivates through wit and surprise ... It seems American poetry is going through stages that European literature has already been through ...”48

32> Höllerer also singles out the German poet Rainer M. Gerhardt, who both influenced and was influenced by Charles Olson. In fact Junge Amerikanische Lyrik begins with Olson’s elegy for Gerhardt, “The Death of Europe,” also included in The New American Poetry.

33> Two archives, two anthologies, two continents, two distinct pictures of the American post-war avant-garde. What is American poetry? Can and should we think of literature and archives within political and geographical boundaries? I argue for a more expansive approach to archival research, one that deterritorializes the archive’s contents, opening up new ways of reading and interpretation: a generative rather than restrictive exercise that takes into account the historic moment and the often hard-to-categorize movements of literary influence across borders. Reading the Donald Allen archive and The New American Poetry transnationally allows us to reconsider the anglophone poetry that emerged after World War II within a global context, both enriching and complicating our understanding of it.


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Barolini, Helen. “The Shadowy Lady of the Street of Dark Shops.” Virginia Quarterly Review. Spring 1998. http://www.vqronline.org/essay/shadowy-lady-street-dark-shops. May 15,

Chapin, Katherine Garrison. “Fifteen Years of New Writing.” The New Republic. January 9, 1961, 25.

Clark, Tom. Charles Olson: The Allegory of a Poet’s Life. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2000. 

Clay, Steven and Phillips, Rodney. A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing, 1960–1980. New York: The New York Public Library, 1998.

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Clippinger, David. The Mind’s Landscape: William Bronk and Twentieth-century American Poetry. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2006.

Corso, Gregory and Höllerer, Walter. Junge Amerikanische Lyrik. Munich: Hanser, 1961.

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Duberman, Martin. Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2009.

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McHugh, Vincent. “What IS That New, Unlabeled Streak Across the Sky Saying?.” San Francisco Sunday Chronicle. June 12, 1960, 25.

Messerli, Douglas. From the Other Side of the Century: A New American Poetry 1960-1990. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1994.

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1 Alan Golding, “Black Mountain School,” The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry & Poetics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), 144.

2 Douglas Messerli, From the Other Side of the Century: A New American Poetry 1960-1990 (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1994), 31.

3 Ron Silliman, Silliman’s Blog, June 11, 2007, http://ronsilliman.blogspot.cz/2007/06/donald- allen-theres-no-such-thing-as.html, September 1, 2019.

4 Martin Duberman, Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2009), 412.

5 David Clippinger, The Mind’s Landscape: William Bronk and Twentieth-century American Poetry (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2006), 184.

6 Tom Clark, Charles Olson: The Allegory of a Poet’s Life (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2000), 288.

7 “The New American Poetry,” The Academy of American Poets, http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/ book/new-american-poetry-1945-1960, September 1, 2019.

8 The New American Poetry, 1945-1960, University of California Press, http://www.ucpress.edu/ book.php?isbn=9780520209534, September 1, 2019.

9 Allen Ginsberg to Donald Allen, May, 1958, Box 10, Folder 15, Donald Allen Collection, UCSD.

10 The concept of deterritorialization can be traced back to Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateus (1980), in which they describe the act of moving beyond one’s territory as establishing a line of flight, be that territory national, physical or conceptual. The authors encourage this undertaking. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 1987), 11-12.

11 Allen, xi.

12 Donald Allen to Robert Creeley, April 17, 1958, Box 10, Folder 15, Donald Allen Collection, UCSD.

13 The precise designs of the anthology remained fluid from beginning to end. That timespan begins in early 1958, when Allen wrote: “Barney [Rosset] has okayed my plans to put together an anthology of postwar American poetry ...” Donald Allen to Charles Olson, February 27, 1958, Charles Olson Collection, University of Connecticut at Storrs. It wasn’t until late 1959 that Allen had decided on the title, writing to James Broughton, “I propose to call the anthology “The New American Poetry.” Donald Allen to James Broughton, September 4, 1959, Box 9, Folder 3, Donald Allen Collection, UCSD.

14 Donald Allen to Charles Olson, September 9, 1959, Box 93, Folder 5, Donald Allen Collection, UCSD.

15 Maud, 61.

16 Allen, xii.

17 “Gael Turnbull 1928-2004,” The Poetry Foundation, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/ gael-turnbull, September 1, 2019.

18 Clay and Phillips, 149.

19 Gael Turnbull, “A Visit to WCW: September, 1958,” The Massachusetts Review, 3.3 (Winter 1962): 297-300.

20 The origin story of Migrant Books, which was headquartered in Ventura, CA and Worcester, UK, attests to its transnational roots and reach. Turnbull began the press “by purchasing stock from several presses, including Origin, Jargon, and Divers Press ...” According to Turnbull, “In the summer of 1957, I published The Whip, a small volume of selected poems by Robert Creeley, who arranged and managed the printing for me on Mallorca ... The bulk of the edition went out through Jargon (Jonathan Williams) in the United States.” Cited in Clay and Phillips, 149.

21 Donald Allen to Gael Turnbull, September 8, 1959, Box 70, Folder 17, Donald Allen Collec- tion, UCSD.

22 Gael Turnbull to Donald Allen, September 12, 1959, Box 70, Folder 17, Donald Allen Collec- tion, UCSD.

23 The question of nationality would continue to vex Allen and his co-editors in future “new American” publishing projects. In a letter concerning The Postmoderns: The New American Po- etry Revised in 1977, co-editor George Butterick queried Allen about the possible inclusion of Cid Corman, but quibbled with the definition of “American poet,” writing: “though as far as I’m concerned anyone who was out of the country for half of the period the anthology covers, from before the Kennedy assasination [sic] and through the resignation of Nixon, missed the point of being an American poet even if he once was ‘new.’ Thump, thump, thump!” George Butterick to Donald Allen, February 24, 1977, Box 14, Folder 6, Donald Allen Collection, UCSD.

24 Adam’s Wikipedia page describes her as “a Scottish poet.” Helen Adam, Wikipedia, http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Adam, September 1, 2019.

25 According to Ron Silliman, Duncan claimed to have played an extremely active role in choosing who was to be included in the anthology. He writes: “Listening to Duncan personally in San Francisco, on several occasions. He made it sound as if Allen had been his amanuensis or grad student assistant.” Ron Silliman, Personal Interview, December 27, 2014. However, Allen’s correspondence indicates that he considered Duncan more of a nuisance than an aide. Writing to Robert Creeley in August, 1959, Allen commented: “Duncan has been a considerable problem.” Donald Allen to Robert Creeley, August 10, 1959, Box 9, Folder 12, Donald Allen Collection, UCSD.

26 See James Broughton’s letter to Allen on October 7, 1959: “I have one major questions about your SF lineage: That is Helen Adam, who is very much out of the mainstream, an ‘original,’ and also Scottish rather than American.” James Broughton to Donald Allen, October 7, 1959, Box 9, Folder 3, Donald Allen Collection, UCSD.

27 Robert Duncan to Donald Allen, December 16, 1956, Box 63, Folder 5, Donald Allen Collection, UCSD.

28 James Schuyler to Donald Allen, September 20, 1959, Box 1, Folder 11, Donald Allen Collection, UCSD.

29 James Clifford, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), 3.

30 Jahan Ramazani, A Transnational Poetics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), x-xi.

31 Jahan Ramazani, A Transnational Poetics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 23.

32 Ramazani, 23.

33 Allen, xi.

34 Ramazini, 31.

35 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1996), 5.

36 Allen, xi.

37 Maud, 46.

38 Allen, xii.

39 Alan Riach, “What Can We Learn from Ed Dorn?,” The National, April 1, 2016, http:// www.thenational.scot/culture/alan-riach-what-can-we-learn-from-edward-dorn.15780, September 1, 2019.

40 Helen Barolini, “The Shadowy Lady of the Street of Dark Shops,” Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 1998, http://www.vqronline.org/essay/shadowy-lady-street-dark-shops, September 1, 2019.

41 Allen, 451-452

42 Nationalism is always arbitrary to a certain degree: “Surely, if people were to understand how arbitrary nationalism is, the concept would appear ludicrous.” Robert Sapolsky “This Is Your Brain on Nationalism: The Biology of Us and Them,” Foreign Affairs, March/April, 2019, 47.

43 Gael Turnbull to Donald Allen, September 12, 1959, Box 70, Folder 17, Donald Allen Collection, UCSD.

44 Gregory Corso and Walter Höllerer, Junge Amerikanische Lyrik (Munich: Hanser, 1961), 269.

45 Walter Höllerer Collection, Das Literaturarchiv Sulzbach-Rosenberg, 03 WH / BH / 6, 10.

46 Walter Höllerer Collection, Das Literaturarchiv Sulzbach-Rosenberg, 01 AK / 8, 90.

47 Walter Höllerer Collection, Das Literaturarchiv Sulzbach-Rosenberg, 03 WH / BH / 5, 39.

48 Gregory Corso and Walter Höllerer, Junge Amerikanische Lyrik (Munich: Hanser, 1961), 256- 264. My translation.


The Poet Laureate of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Stephan Delbos is a Senior Lecturer at Charles University and Anglo-American University. His poetry, translations and essays have been published internationally.

Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture

Volume Six (2020)
Artifacts & Works / Communities & Fields

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